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R U OK? Day – Have you asked the question?

R U OK? Day – Have you asked the question?

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Today is R U OK? day.

A day for us to have more meaningful conversations with each other.

A day to listen without judgement.

A day for all of us to contribute to a culture of connectedness, resilience and empathy.

School Governance recently reported that, “in a school with 1000 students, at any one time 62 are likely to be suffering from depression, 167 from an anxiety condition and 250 from some form of mental health condition.  Imagine the reaction if 25% of your student population came to school with a broken leg.  Undoubted this would make the front page of the news. Unfortunately as mental health is not usually “visible” it simply doesn’t get the same level of attention as physical injuries and disabilities.”

By prompting all of us to connect with friends and family and ask R U OK?, we are reminded of how we can change, or even save a life.

Social media is one way in which we can reach out when circumstances don’t lend themselves to face-to face-contact. Whilst there are widespread concerns about cyberbullying on social media, equally there are many young people using their various social networks to connect and converse in a way that may be harder offline.

In her recent article, Cyberbullying On the Rise parent advocate Sue Scheff says, “yes, cyberbullying might be rising, but let’s start talking about how upstanders and kindness online is growing too.”

At Be Social Be Smart. we want to support young people to harness the enormous power of their innate tech savvy and be proactive in doing good – to others, to themselves, and to society in general. This needs to go beyond just sharing messages of kindness and support of course, because it doesn’t mean much without showing true empathy, kindness and compassion in day-to-day life.

R U OK? is providing schools with “how-to” guides for creating conversation corners with RUOK benches. These can be more symbolic reminders of the importance of talking to each other or a dedicated, quiet place to have meaningful conversations.

One student ambassador told R U OK? that the next challenge is to create an online “convo corner”. In some ways these convo corners already exist on various social media platforms. As one teen told us, “it’s really important to check up on your friends every once and a while and social media has made it easier to help connect you to your friends, with messaging for example.”

Another said “friends are just an awesome way to lift your spirits. Sometimes when I’m feeling sad or down about something and I look at my text or Facebook messages and see a message from one of them just saying “how was your day”, my whole day turns around. The power of a simple conversation is incredible.”

Whether you reach out in person, over the phone, or online, let’s stay connected and treat each other with kindness not just today, but every day.

Image credit: R U OK? Facebook Page

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